The IRS slams the door on timely tax return filing Monday, April 15 at midnight. Most Post Offices won’t be open past their normal closing hour, usually 5.p.m. You need to be there earlier, to have them postmarked.
If you’re sending returns electronically, you can press the Send button just before midnight. Eighty percent of taxpayers now file online — by themselves or through their tax preparers.
Not everyone can get a tax return ready on time. The answer is to file for an extension. That puts off your tax return’s due date to Oct. 15. To get the extension, you have to file Form 4868 by April 15.
There’s a hitch. The extension applies only to the tax return itself. All your taxes are due by April 15, so you’ll still have to compute the amount you owe. If you don’t pay the full amount, you’ll owe interest and penalties on what’s missing.
If you have to pay the tax, why bother filing for an extension? Here are the three top reasons:
1. You might not have all the documents yet – for example, people in partnerships might be waiting for their K-1 form.
2. You might be self-employed and need more time to fund your retirement plan. You can add money to your 2012 SEP-IRA or solo 401(k) right up to the extended deadline in October.
3. You can’t pay all the taxes due. By filing for an extension, and paying what you can, you avoid the extra penalty for failing to file.
The IRS offers free e-filing, called Free File, for people with adjusted gross incomes of $57,000 or less. There might be an extra charge for filing a state return. You can also use Free File to file for an extension.
This story was updated Sunday. An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the last day to file taxes. The last day is midnight on Monday, April 15.
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